Updated: Mar 18
With all this turmoil surrounding us right now, I’m compelled to write. For me, putting words onto paper somehow calms the shrieking inside my head, so let’s call this piece therapeutic.
COVID-19 has changed our world forever. There is no going back from this, it’s something our children and grandchildren will feel the ramifications of for years to come. Let’s hope that when it’s over and the world bounces back, there are good consequences too.
So, a bit about me. I’ve lived in Bali, Indonesia, for the past four years. With my husband, we’ve seen volcano eruptions, felt many earthquakes and a general topsy-turvy travel climate for some time. The move overseas has surely been a test of strength. And then, BOOM! Here comes Covid19.
Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think this is where the world would be in March of 2020. Could we possibly do a rerun of New Years Eve and start again? It only feels like yesterday when I made no resolutions and chose to live this year wild and free.
I’ve received many messages over the past week asking if people should still travel to Bali, that I cannot answer. It comes down to being a personal choice but I feel like I have to point out a few things to consider, so here we go.
**Obviously with the announcements on the 18th March, everything changes. With the Level 4 warning in Australia and Indonesia restricting entry for foreigners, travel into Bali is going to be difficult. For now, we are staying put. We will be careful, follow all instructions and help locals and expats where possible.
Should you travel to Bali?– (Or anywhere for that matter) Travelling right now comes with many consequences dependent on governments and officials. There are many countries now putting a 14-day mandatory self-quarantine in place. Are you prepared to book a holiday and stay in a hotel room for that time? While Indonesia doesn’t have this in place right now, things are changing quickly each day. Then of course, there is the same stipulation when you return to your own country, can you afford the time away from work? And of course, there’s always the chance that borders will close, either in Australia or here in Bali, as long as you’re down with all that, go for it!
Travel Insurance is a must, BUT…… With the Level 3 travel warning instigated by the Australian government, be sure to read the fine print. Most companies do not cover COVID-19, but some will also void your cover totally if you choose to travel during this warning. That means even a broken bone may not be covered.
What is Bali like now? – Bali is quiet but the sun still shines and the beer is still cold. The Balinese people carry on as normal, it’s what they do best. They’ll still greet you with smiles but inside, I guarantee you, there is the same turmoil you feel. The island is dependent on tourism, it’s where most of their money comes from. I’ve seen comments saying the local people are blase about it all, well that’s just how they deal with things. Then, there are the comments suggesting you only support the Balinese owned businesses and not the foreign owned. Remember that whatever business you choose, they all employ Balinese staff, pay taxes and put money into the island in many other ways. Support as many as you can!!
There are so many businesses who are hurting. Occupancy rates are decimated and future bookings are cancelled. Restaurants and bars are slowly feeling the pain, many have cancelled entertainment and have also cut back on staff. There are many businesses who will not survive this, if you have to cancel accommodation or any booking, be considerate to the person on the other end. It’s their livelihood being affected too.
We have toilet paper but hand sanitizer is scarce, and we have no onions. Bali’s onions were imported from China, currently the local ones are available for around $20AUD a kilogram. Hence why your burger may be onion free right now!!
Is the information correct? – I honestly don’t know. I must admit to having four different news apps on my phone, and I am that person who cannot put down her phone. Possibly the cause of much of my anxiety, but I keep looking anyway. We are told the outbreaks have been in Jakarta, West Java and other Indonesian islands. There has been one death reported to date on Bali island, and there are at least 60 people currently isolated and being tested. The other reported deaths and cases come from other islands in Indonesia. In my opinion, it’s naive to think this virus has not yet entered Bali. Many symptoms resemble dengue or a bad flu, so those local people who cannot afford to see a doctor would just get on with their life and possibly use traditional medicines. Also, so many of them are afraid of doctors, they’ve been let down too many times to trust again. Others will feel frightened to admit they have caught something which carries such a stigma right now. Those elderly people in rural villages are our most vulnerable in Bali. I shudder at the thought they’ll get sick, they’ll pass and the cremation will follow. No reporting, just traditions followed.
There’s now a lot of information about the symptoms being circulated so hopefully this will educate everyone in Bali on what to look for. Social distancing is also being encouraged but as we head into Nyepi celebrations and the beginning of Ramadan, this is going to be difficult.
What should you do in Bali? – If you choose to continue your holiday, good for you. Enjoy your time here, bring hand sanitizer with you as it’s in short supply. Be aware and be hygienic. Wash your hands with soap and water regularly, particularly after using money. Spend your days doing what you normally would on holiday, have fun. At the time of writing, some venues were beginning to temporarily close, such as water parks, restaurants and spas.
What you shouldn’t do in Bali? – The latest comments on social media show photos of people stocking up with food, toiletries and even toilet paper. By all means take back a few of your favourite things, but don’t start panic buying in another country. There are over 4 million people on the island of Bali who are yet to feel the real affects of this virus, don’t leave them with empty shelves. AND please don’t tell me the Balinese people don’t need toilet paper! Bum gun or not, give them the option.
I must point out, these are all my personal views. Remember if you choose to travel, the consequences are yours. If you travel and your holiday was amazing then you are fortunate. Don’t brag in a way that makes others feel bad, be grateful for what you were able to experience. If you’ve decided not to travel, stop harassing those who are.
One final point. If you travel and become unwell do the right thing. Isolate yourself and seek medical advice, consider those around you especially the elderly and those more susceptible to illness.
AND BE KIND. Don’t barter to the last cent, a one dollar saving for you is a meal for them. Be considerate to the staff wherever you go, their mate may have just lost their job. Their child may not be attending school and they have no one to care for them. They may be scared shitless of a virus they don’t really understand.
AND REMEMBER, not everyone can fight this fight. It isn’t just a flu to those with underlying conditions. Anxiety is real and not everyone can deal with it in the same way, kind words mean a lot when a hug can’t be given.
Peace and Love always, wherever you are in the world, stay safe.